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Just got the call no one ever wants to receive...UPDATED POST ON PAGE THREE!!

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  • Just got the call no one ever wants to receive...UPDATED POST ON PAGE THREE!!

    I am beside myself. My 22 year old OTTB has been on treatment for EPM for the past 4 months (3 months of the EPM Shake, 1 month of Marquis). He originally tested mid-range for the titers, with my vet concluding that it would be worth treating him. There has been no improvement, and he's gotten progressively worse. A few weeks ago, he collapsed while I was grazing him, which was the most heartbreaking thing I have ever seen. He has also fallen several times in the small field where he is being turned out for a couple hours each day. Most recently, he fell and had a really hard time getting up (according to my trainer who saw it happen). Throughout all of this, he is still the same excitable, wonderful guy I've always known and loved. His personality hasn't changed despite his condition and he seems fairly content for a horse that has been on stall rest since May (prior to the EPM setting in, he had a deep flexor tear).

    My mom met my vet at the barn today for another appointment. I couldn't be there because I'm at work, so I have not had a chance to speak with my vet directly (he wants to meet with me in person), but my mom said that the vet said that the ataxia is worse, and that if it is EPM, he's not going to get better. It may also be neck arthritis, but my vet said that he is not a good candidate for a myleogram given his age and condition. My vet does not think he will respond well to the anesthia.

    My vet advised stopping the marquis, as if it was going to work we would have seen some improvement by now. He also said that there is not much we can do to treat the neck arthritis if it is that. He did not specifically mention euthansia, but my mom thinks that may be what he wants to discuss with me in person.

    I am just devastated. Surely there has to be something we can try, right? I've heard that you can try Tildren injections for arthritis, though my vet didn't seem to think that would help much. I'm thinking I want to get a second opinion...

    Does anyone have any other suggestions? Any thoughts you have would be much appreciated! I cannot bear the idea of losing my best friend. He's still so vibrant and has so much life left to live...
    Last edited by PrinceSheik325; Mar. 12, 2014, 10:33 AM.

  • #2
    Our horse with neck arthritus did well with Previcoxx, 14 days on, 12 days off, then 14 days on, etc. She had broken her neck as a yearling, came back to work for us until about age 16, when the arthritus got worse. Got the horse dose of 57g on the days she was medicated. Alternating seemed to keep the relief working for her, not deadening the body response to the medication of a continued daily dose. Saved us money doing it that alternating way, and she stayed the same on or off, in her improved movement.

    She had no EPM issues to muddy the problems.

    Might or might not help your horse. His EPM issues sound like they may force you to make a choice for him before he is stuck being down. Hard to do!! I really feel for you on this.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thank you thank you thank you for your response!! I will definitely ask my vet about Previcoxx when I meet with him. At this point, I'm willing to try anything that might help.

      Comment


      • #4
        One of my horses had EPM that did not respond to Marquis. In fact he got worse while taking it. We used Navigator (nitazoxanide) successfully. It had a lot of side effects, but we were very careful with monitoring and it worked. Unfortunately it has been taken off the market. A vet told me that there was an alternative to Navigator being developed, but I am not aware of anything being sold currently.

        Comment


        • #5
          I lost my grand old event mare to complications of EPM. She was treated and did well for almost TWO YEARS, and could even be ridden on the flat a little. She was happy and enjoying herself and had earned her retirement. Then one day she got a bee in her bonnet over something and started to gallop, and went down . . . she got up horribly ataxic and we had to euthanize her days later.

          In the end, we never did know if the EPM had flared or if the fall had damaged her somehow. It was, however, an academic question--the mare was miserable, a danger to herself, and there was so little hope of meaningful recovery that my only regret was waiting the one extra day, which was a very bad one for her.

          I think once they're terribly ataxic and going down, the risk of something horrible happening has to be weighed very heavily in deciding what to do. Very sorry for your horse--my Gwennie was 22 also, healthy and sound as a rock other than the EPM. She is resting where she laid down with her head in my lap, giving a huge sigh of relief that she no longer had to bravely hold up with her gigantic will the body that couldn't hold her up any more. I think of her nearly every day, almost 4 years later, and have NO regrets about doing what needed to be done for her, other than waiting too long.

          Jingling for both of you.
          Click here before you buy.

          Comment


          • #6
            I am so sorry you are facing this.

            I think that sometimes "doing everything possible *for* the horse is having the personal courage to put it down. It is not easy.

            Comment


            • #7
              Wow, just sorry to read of this. Jingles for you and your boy, whatever happens. Will certainly pray for you both.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thanks you guys...I really appreciate the support.

                Comment


                • #9
                  A horse that is falling down due to ataxia is very far down the neurological road and it may not be wise or even safe to try to pursue any further treatment. I'm sorry

                  That said, injecting the facets can be quite useful when the diagnosis is arthritis in the cervical spine. If you have the dollars, a bone scan would be quite diagnostic, and the horse is sedated but standing. If you do not have the dollars, rads of the neck are not terribly expensive, and may show arthritis or spurs. Injections are done sedated and standing and are ultrasound guided.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'm so sorry. I have no good advice, just jingling for you guys.
                    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                    Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                      A horse that is falling down due to ataxia is very far down the neurological road and it may not be wise or even safe to try to pursue any further treatment. I'm sorry

                      That said, injecting the facets can be quite useful when the diagnosis is arthritis in the cervical spine. If you have the dollars, a bone scan would be quite diagnostic, and the horse is sedated but standing. If you do not have the dollars, rads of the neck are not terribly expensive, and may show arthritis or spurs. Injections are done sedated and standing and are ultrasound guided.

                      This may be a stupid question, but if I imagine you have to trailer to the veterinary facility to do a bone scan. If so, is it possible to safely trailer an ataxic horse?

                      Thanks for this suggestion, though - I'm definitely going to ask my vet about the bone scan.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'm sorry you and your boy are dealing with this...

                        Jingles for the both of you.
                        Boyle Heights Kid 1998 16.1h OTTB Dark Bay Gelding
                        Tinner's Way x Sculpture by Hail to Reason
                        "Once you go off track, you never go back!"

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by PrinceSheik325 View Post
                          This may be a stupid question, but if I imagine you have to trailer to the veterinary facility to do a bone scan. If so, is it possible to safely trailer an ataxic horse?

                          Thanks for this suggestion, though - I'm definitely going to ask my vet about the bone scan.
                          Yes, the horse would have to be trailered to a a clinic with the equipment to actually do a bone scan--it's an expensive piece of machinery and generally limited to teaching or large referral hospitals. Not sure where you are or if the equipment is available to you. He would also have to stay for a period following the test, to allow the radioactive isotope to clear his body.

                          I don't know how wise it would be to trailer an ataxic horse. I imagine there are two schools of thought on the matter, if you were to attempt it: either haul him loose in a stock trailer, so he can balance however he sees fit, and has the room to not hurt himself if he does go down, or haul him tied in a straight or slant spot, possibly with a full partition, so he's got something to lean against. It's probably six of one, half a dozen of the other, but I would likely be inclined to go with option number one.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I would x-ray the neck now. It's easy and can be done in your barn with immediate feedback- although the vet will likely need to give the films a re-read on a larger screen back at the cinic.

                            If you find nothing, ask about other EPM meds. If you find something, ask about Previcox and injecting the spine (unless the steroids are contraindicated due to presumed still active concurrent EPM).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I don't want to sound mean, but this horse has fallen down SEVERAL times and is now having trouble getting back up when he falls. It is winter - if he goes down in the field on a cold night and can't get up or if he goes down in the stall and gets cast and starts thrashing and breaks something, that would be VERY bad. I understand that it is hard to make the decision to euthanize but given the circumstances with this horse, it sounds like that is the most humane option for his safety and the safety of those around him. **Hugs**

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Even if you could do a bone scan or X-rays, it is highly unlikely that this would lead to a really satisfying treatment plan. Severe ataxia is typically not amenable to injecting facet joints.

                                In a desperate situation high dose corticosteroids MIGHT help if there is severe spinal cord compression, but you also run at least a theoretical risk of causing EPM to cut loose and get worse in the process. A real dilemma, but if there are no other options it might be something I'd be willing to contemplate. (and I did, with my mare, but my vet gently talked me out of it as it was unlikely to be a meaningful long-term solution)
                                Click here before you buy.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                                  Even if you could do a bone scan or X-rays, it is highly unlikely that this would lead to a really satisfying treatment plan. Severe ataxia is typically not amenable to injecting facet joints.

                                  In a desperate situation high dose corticosteroids MIGHT help if there is severe spinal cord compression, but you also run at least a theoretical risk of causing EPM to cut loose and get worse in the process. A real dilemma, but if there are no other options it might be something I'd be willing to contemplate. (and I did, with my mare, but my vet gently talked me out of it as it was unlikely to be a meaningful long-term solution)
                                  That would actually be the way I would go. It will either force your hand to euthanize or stabilize him enough to get him to the clinic for further testing. That said, nobody would fault you for ending his suffering right now. Jingles.
                                  McDowell Racing Stables

                                  Home Away From Home

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I am so sorry, it's not like a traumatic injury that makes the decision for you.

                                    It takes time but you're asking and getting yourself ready to get past the part where it is about you and your feelings and more about what is best for your horse. It's kind of like taking someone with terminal cancer for painful chemo treatments. I've been there and decided for my mother enough was enough. Every step of the transport my senses were screaming no this is wrong. With family support we decided against the treatments, she passed 5 days later - what WAS the point? And it put her thru hell. My SIL and I nursed her 24/7 at the end and every night we prayed for a peaceful passing.

                                    I 'know' that you want to do everything possible for your friend, but consider what your horse is going thru, such a proud individual that can't depend upon their body to survive.

                                    I wish you comfort and support in your indecisions right now. You need the clarity to know what is right. GB.
                                    Don't let anyone tell you that your ideas or dreams are foolish. There is a millionaire walking around who invented the pool noodle.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thanks so much to everyone for all the support, encouraging words, and personal stories. You have no idea how much your kind words have helped me today. I am forming a list of questions for my vet and will try to take all of this one step at at time. Updates to follow...

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Prince so sorry you are going through this

                                        I had a horse that would fall, she had narcolepsy. This was many, many years ago and we did not know then what to do to make her more comfortable. Anyways, one night she fell, and she broke her leg. That is now my big fear with horses who fall. Best wishes to you in this hard time. ((HUGS))
                                        Unrepentant carb eater

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